I had the pleasure of illustrating the cover for “The Graveyard Shift,” a one-episode radio drama from Katie Haughton and her audiobook podcast, Katiez Korner, with talent from Makayla Sanchez.
Here’s a little bit about the episode:
When Marty, a jaded maid at a rundown motel, gets stuck in the rain with a young coworker, she resigns herself to a late evening of unwanted optimism, unrealistic dreams, and cheap watercolor paints. But when the conversation shifts to more serious matters, Marty realizes she might have misjudged her quirky work partner.
I had a new challenge recently, and for once, it didn’t involve designing a book cover (that was handled by the talented 100 Covers team, whose work you can see below). Instead, I was tasked with creating the interior design for a full-length novel and reflowable ebook—and to match it with its previous book in the soon-to-be trilogy.
When Ben Wolf asked me to design a cover for a spin-off novella of his Santa Saves Christmas series (in which Santa fights zombie reindeer, raptors, and possibly Cthulhu) I jumped on the opportunity. I’ve been trying to diversify my cover portfolio, and my fiction was lacking—plus, it’s Ben Wolf’s Christmas series. There’s a puffin. There’s fighting Putin. There’s insanity.
Plus I got to build Chernobyl for the cover.
The biggest challenge was making the cover match in style and color to the renowned Kirk DouPonce, who designed the Santa trilogy and is a far more experienced designer than I am. My first attempt had all the right elements, but when Ben pushed me to really pop the colors into an almost comic-book level of saturation, the project really turned into something cool.
Shortly after finishing college, I joined the team at Havok Publishing as a senior graphic designer. Havok is a source of daily flash fiction covering a range of genres, from mystery to science fiction to comedy to thriller to fantasy. Each story is told in 1,000 words or fewer, and every one of them fits within a season’s theme. It’s a fantastic place to submit fiction and gain writing credentials—and even if your story isn’t accepted, the editorial team gives thorough feedback that can help you improve your writing.
While working with other designers on what we call “story covers” for published flash fiction, I was given the opportunity to joint-design season six’s anthology cover, Casting Call, with Teddi Deppner, who leads Marketing.
The initial concept and composition was mine, and Teddi swapped out a few images for higher quality ones. She also reworked the phoenix silhouette I had to make it more unique from some of the other branding of that season. I worked on the lighting (including the spotlight beams, sparkles, lens flares, feather shadows, and textures on the clapboard), and Teddi did the typography.
You can see our collaborative efforts below our final version.
I was able to design Grace Ingles’s senior portfolio project for her professional writing degree. I loved being able to do illustrations this semester, and had fun laying out the interior designs for this book in particular. I was able to play off of the design and color scheme of The Girl Who Drank The Moon, and use a similar typography as the Lunar Chronicles, which I really enjoyed. It was also fun to create a small little world for the girl featured on the front—Grace’s themes involve a lot of pushing forward and overcoming trials to reach among the stars, so I wanted to create a little place the girl could escape to over the chaos of a busy city and home life. I like to imagine that’s her house with the skylight, just below the cliff (visible in the full artwork below the cover), and that she likes to sneak out at night and watch the skies.
When you go to college, you go to get a degree, to pursue your dreams, to get a serious job when you graduate. I did all of these things. And then some days I have the non-serious job.
I was stoked to design the complete series omnibus for Ben Wolf’s insaneSanta Saves Christmas series. It was a bit of a challenge, largely because I had to combine elements from all three books into a single design to Ben’s specifications He wanted puffins flying everywhere, and they all needed to be viciously branding weapons of mass destruction.
This was a longer-term project dating back to the summer months, but the book is officially up for pre-order! I had the pleasure to design a biblical leadership book for Melissa McCormick of MX3 Business solutions.
I had the opportunity to design the cover and interiors for another professional writing student at my alma mater. Since designing your own book isn’t a requirement for this class, students often enlist the help of their art major friends. In my case, I offer to do the full cover and interiors at a discounted price for PCC students.
This was Lilly Hakel’s senior portfolio design, which I loved creating. One of her central stories featured in her portfolio dealt with a child trying to grow sunflowers in his bottom dresser drawer. Since I absolutely loved the imagery and how it tied into her themes of hope sprinkled through her pieces, I suggested creating the scene for the cover.
At my alma mater, seniors studying Professional Writing must compile their best writing samples—including fiction, poetry, advertisements, and essays—and publish them in a physical portfolio at the end of the semester. Most PW majors enlist friends or hire out the design work so they can better focus on editing their pieces, and I’ve enjoyed doing a number of portfolios for the last few years.
This was Emily Thompson’s final portfolio design. She wanted an artistic flair to the cover similar to my PCC Survival Guide book. Many of her portfolio pieces demonstrated themes of hope and revival from difficult or trying times in life, and she wanted to correlate that theme with the fireweed blossoms that grow up after devastating forest fires.
For this reason, I decided to play with color clashing with monochromatic greys. I deliberately chose to make the edges of the book charred and ashy looking, but as the blossoms come into the foreground, I wanted them to become bright and colorful.
This is my first sequel design, and I couldn’t be happier with it. Power Author 1 was my first “big break” in cover design, and since then I’ve enjoyed partnering with Ben Wolf on other books. I guess he liked the first one enough to book me for the series. *cheers*
Like Power Author 1, I wanted to keep the same “magic book” thing going on, but this time, dragons and aliens weren’t the subject matter. This time, I would be focusing on depicting live events such as book fairs, conventions, conferences, and book signings—which proved far more difficult than it sounds.
I ended up figuring that, by going to a live event, you’re likely going to be traveling, and traveling will involve flying on airlines and visiting new cities. I also incorporated banners and posters that you see at events, and had the airplane flying to these event banners. I wrapped the whole thing up by placing all the “magic” on a stack of books (an upgrade from the previous installment). You’d likely bring stacks of your published works to sign, so I knew there had to be more than one “magic book” this time.